By Greg Richter
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of NSA leaker Edward Snowden's revelations last year, says to expect "a lot more significant stories" as he launches a new independent news website this week.
On Monday, his new site, The Intercept, dropped its first big story, about the NSA's role in targeted killings.
The article reveals an NSA program codenamed GILGAMESH that provides geolocation data to U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to target drone strikes and capture/kill raids.
"The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people," the article states.
Without the crucial geolocation data, the article suggests it would be nearly impossible to target suspected terrorists, since the human intelligence is apparently often not that reliable. But in terms of definitively proving the targets are in fact terrorists, the abstract location data is even less reliable.
"Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using," the article continues.
JSOC would be helpless "without the NSA conducting mass surveillance on an industrial level,” the story states, quoting a former Air Force drone operator named Brandon Bryant. “That is what creates those baseball cards you hear about,” featuring potential targets for drone strikes or raids.
"Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there," the former drone operator continues. "But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an 'unlawful enemy combatant.' This is where it gets very shady.
"We’re not going after people — we’re going after their phones.
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